Sensemaking of large graphs, specifically those with millions of nodes, is a crucial task in many fields. Automatic graph layout algorithms, augmented with real-time human-in-the-loop interaction, can potentially support sensemaking of large graphs. However, designing interactive algorithms to achieve this is challenging. In this paper, we tackle the scalability problem of interactive layout of large graphs, and contribute a new GPU-based force-directed layout algorithm that exploits graph topology. This algorithm can interactively layout graphs with millions of nodes, and support real-time interaction to explore alternative graph layouts. Users can directly manipulate the layout of vertices in a force-directed fashion. The complexity of traditional repulsive force computation is reduced by approximating calculations based on the hierarchical structure of multi-level clustered graphs. We evaluate the algorithm performance, and demonstrate human-in-the-loop layout in two sensemaking case studies. Moreover, we summarize lessons learned for designing interactive large graph layout algorithms on the GPU.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.